When there’s so much to do and so little time to spend truly connecting with your kids, journaling is something quick and easy to fit into each of your busy schedules! Writing in journals together sends the message that your kids, no matter what their ages, are important and unique, and so are their private feelings and thoughts. Besides the obvious benefits of great one-on-one time, journaling promotes creativity, reduces stress, and encourages self-expression. Journals are a wonderful, inexpensive tool to explore dreams and wishes, secrets and frustrations, or just plain old everyday life, and anyone can do it with just a notebook and a pen.
Here are some tips to get you started journaling with your kids.
Let them choose their writing tools.
There are so many journal varieties, such as: journals with pens that light up so you can write in the dark, big artist journals with no lines and plenty of space for pasting and coloring, even fun apps and websites that keep your writing safe with a password. Let your child choose what they want to journal with. Black paper and gel pens? Or maybe glitter and sequins? The possibilities are endless. (Don’t forget to select one for yourself, too!)
Write five-minute pages.
Who says you need to have a quiet hour with a cup of tea to write in a journal? Five minutes is a very doable time frame to take a quick temperature of your day, and is a good way to jumpstart your writing. The point is simply to keep your pen moving for just five minutes and don’t stop! Set a timer to help you.
Expand your definition of journal writing.
Add pictures or homework your child brought home from school, and have them write about it. Glue cards, ticket stubs, or letters they’ve received to develop an interesting “scrapbook” look to the journal. Write letters to yourself or make easy lists of ten. Use your computer to add fonts, pictures and word art to add a creative, personal touch!
Don’t worry about spelling or handwriting.
Let the pages of the journal be the one place where you and your kids can write anything at all without worrying about a grade. It’s important to provide a sense of privacy and safety when they write. And parents, no peeking!
Model the behavior.
When your child sees you writing in your journal, it lets them know you value writing, self-awareness, and creativity! Remember to talk about privacy with your child and ask if there are boundaries that you’d like to establish about your journals. Journaling with your kids will go a long way towards respecting each other’s feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything they’d like to share about what they wrote. They just might surprise you by opening up.
Suggest times to journal.
There are no rules to journaling — so don’t feel like you have to write every day. Choose a time that suits your schedule, like mealtime, that allows you to write quietly together. Other possibilities might include: after school, in the car, during weekends, on their birthdays, or on holidays. Why not begin a journal on a vacation when there is always so much to write about?
Create a family journal.
Keep a journal the whole family can add to by writing about important family events, local news, favorite foods, TV shows or movies that the whole family enjoys. You might want to include “gratitude pages,” a place where the family lists things they are grateful for that day (and not just on Thanksgiving)! These journals will be treasured heirlooms for generations to come!